I hadn’t heard of Kitaria Fables before I came to review it. However, upon looking further into what it was about, I felt it sounded pretty interesting. I mean, when“Zelda meets Stardew Valley” is a common comparison, I couldn’t exactly say no. It sounded pretty good to me. Breath of the Wild is one of the best games I’ve ever played, and the Zelda series as a whole has been around pretty much my whole life. I wasn’t sure about the farming aspect, but I thought it sounded interesting and was looking forward to getting stuck in. Unfortunately, what I was left with was a repetitive game that couldn’t make its mind up about what it wanted to be.
“Unfortunately, the moment I was introduced to Kitaria Fables’ combat system, I suddenly grew a little deflated.”
I want to preface this review with some positivity. Things started well in Kitaria Fables. Sure, it didn’t feel like anything particularly new, but it was enough to keep an action-RPG fan entertained. Narratively, it has the trappings of a classic RPG. An ancient Calamity once ruled the lands but was vanquished a century ago. Peace reigned. That was until now! Despite being slightly cliche, I nevertheless felt it was fun. Additionally, with the inclusion of its litany of adorable characters, Kitaria Fables’ narrative certainly felt like it was off to a positive start.
Unfortunately, the moment I was introduced to its combat system, I suddenly grew a little deflated. Combat is very simple at first, assigning a single button press for attacking and dodging. You do gain additional abilities later on and even some magical abilities which you can assign to one of the shoulder buttons. Despite it being fun at times, ultimately I felt there wasn’t really much to it nor was it all that impressive. You just have one button for attacking, one for magic, and one for dodging.
Fortunately, as you progress through the game you’ll find that some strategy is needed, especially when you come up against hordes of enemies that heal each other. These kinds of encounters saw me luring one enemy away from the rest and taking them out just to even the odds a little. Nevertheless, it is still nothing too complex, and even the boss fights just tend to be a long-winded repetition of dodge and attack.
“That promise of “Zelda meets Stardew Valley” just feels hollow and empty when the final product resembles a half-baked version of those two games.”
Unfortunately, despite Kitaria Fables starting off with some fun, albeit over-simplified action, it eventually drifts off into what feels like three different games all haphazardly stitched together. After the initial set-up, you are tasked to retrieve a “Relic of Power” from a nearby dungeon. At this point, Kiratia Fables suddenly becomes a dungeon crawler. However, once again there was nothing spectacular about its dungeon-crawling gameplay, and nothing new to make it interesting.
From then, the game becomes a farming sim. You are given the keys to your grandfather’s farm and told briefly how to grow crops. These crops can be used as standalone health-recovery items or can be used as you progress to cook recipes. The cooked food has a higher HP gain and sometimes additional effects, such as magic resistance. The problem is that the whole process is incredibly long-winded.
It takes such an arduously long time to create grow even the most basic of plants. To make matters worse, even after you’ve finished the harvesting stage, you still need to turn your crops into other ingredients at a store. You need to do this so that they can be used in a recipe. This costs even more money, time and effort. Finally, after all of that, you have a health potion shaped like an apple pie. It just seems unnecessary and a little too much.
Alas, none of these elements gel together in a meaningful or coherent way. That promise of “Zelda meets Stardew Valley” just feels hollow and empty when the final product resembles a half-baked version of those two games. It feels less like a coming together of masterpieces, and more a poor recreation of them stuffed together to make an overall mediocre experience.
“The story is put on hold in order for you to run around trying to find toadstools.”
Upgrading armour and weaponry is an equally arduous task. You need both materials and money to do this. Materials can sometimes be found hidden in chests, but rarely in quantity enough to be useful. More often than not you need to find a specific enemy that drops the required item when defeated. And, of course, they don’t always drop the item.
I found myself spending an hour repeatedly going in and out of an Orc camp to kill them all, leave the area, go back in to find that they have respawned, and then kill them again. I did all of this in order to collect ten pieces of Ironstone. You can also mine certain materials such as stone and copper, and chop trees for wood. On doing this, we’re back to taking the raw materials to a blacksmith to turn them into Ingots so that they can then be used for upgrades. Unfortunately, you need to do all this from the offset. This means that the story is put on hold in order for you to run around trying to find toadstools.
“There’s a huge sense of ludonarrative dissonance when you remember the imminent threat from an ancient evil looming over you as you deliver parcels.”
Unlike the big open-world games that let you choose whether or not to do the inconsequential tasks as the world literally falls apart, Kitaria Fables forces you to do them as main missions. Early on, I found myself essentially running errands. All I was really doing was taking parcels back and forth. However, unlike the incredible Lake, it just felt like I was wasting time.
While some of these are side-quests, a lot of them have to be completed in order to advance the story. Coupled with the monotonously long task of farming and it quickly feels like you’ve wasted hours doing pretty much nothing. There’s a huge sense of ludonarrative dissonance when you remember the imminent threat from an ancient evil looming over you as you deliver that parcel.
At least the missions do give you pretty clear directions where you need to go. The map is split into areas, unlocking on the world map as you discover them. The directions for each quest are usually straightforward and clear. However, occasionally the entrance to an area is somewhat hidden. This leaves you scratching your head and wandering through the same areas over and over trying to figure out how the heck you get to the next mission objective.
“Ultimately, Kitaria Fables is best described as a mixed bag.”
Dying is no fun in the game either. Upon being defeated, you are returned all the way back to your farm. This wouldn’t be so bad if there was a decent fast-travel system. However, to move quickly between areas you can only do so where there is a teleporter. The teleporter is good, but a proper fast-travel system would have been better. Or even just being able to respawn at a checkpoint instead of returning back home.
On a final note, and to lighten the mood slightly, the game does actually look pretty good. It’s very cute, and all the animal characters are well-made. You can customise your character slightly by changing the colour of your cat’s fur. Also, did I mention this? Your name in the game is Nyan. And you’re a cat. Yeah, so there’s that.
Ultimately, Kitaria Fables is best described as a mixed bag. While it has its high points, its lack of innovation and over-simplification of its core mechanics make it a bore to play. There is an abundance of things to do and see here. However, it is so half-baked and lacking in fun that I never felt the desire to do any of it. Kitaria Fables is so often at odds with itself that I have to ask why bother trying to be three things at once? In the words of Ron Swanson, “Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.”
*Disclaimer: Reviewed on PC, code was provided by the Publisher.